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Street Race Truck More... The Toolbox

Paint Maintenance

9/14/2016

Maintaining your classic mechanically is one of your goals in life. But while you are focused on getting her running smooth, what is happening to that paint? Knowing how to maintain your paints gloss and shine is also extremely important. Not only is it time consuming to replace, it’s also expensive. So why not protect it?

Start with the tried and true cotton wash mitt, a 5 gallon bucket of water, and a good automotive safe cleaner like AERO Suds Exterior Soap. One thing I was taught is to start at the top and work your way down. That way you don’t blow dirt and debris back up on a clean surface. You’ll want to do this in the shade, trust me. Spray as much of the loose dirt off the car. Once that is done, go after it with the wash mitt, again, starting at the top and working down. Make sure to rinse the mitt often, otherwise you’ll end up with scratches from the trapped debris. Rinse and dry.

I said dry. This is a very important step that a lot of people ignore! Ignore it, and you will have little mineral deposits all over your car. Then you’ll have to wash it again. Use good clean cotton towels or a sheepskin or synthetic chamois, not one of the microfiber towels. (Despite popular beliefs, these can actually harm your paints finish by scratching it.) If you still have some stubborn stuff after the wash, your next step is to break out the clay bar. Used in conjunction with the lubricating spray, a clay bar actually pulls the crud off of the paint without damage.

Options for Oxidization

Now if your paint is still oxidized and dull, you have a couple options available to try. First, keep in mind these options will all remove some paint, just in varying degrees. Your standard polish is the least abrasive, then a cleaner and finally rubbing compound. Compounds are better left to professionals, being best utilized by a machine buffer, but polish is something that anyone can use. One trick with old oxidized paint is to use a clay bar and lubricant spray to take off the top layer of powder, before polishing it up by hand or having a shop do it. The best part about having a shop do it, if they burn through the paint they can fix it. If you burn through the paint, you get to pay to fix it.

Now it’s time to wax. Our recommendation is a reputable carnauba-based wax, either in paste or liquid form. This will usually last between 6-10 weeks. After you have waxed your beauty, you can maintain that gloss at car shows with quick detailer sprays like the Lucas Oil Slick Mist Speed Wax, a product that you can use as a traditional wax, detail spray, or spray on the vehicle between rinsing a drying for a fast and easy polish job. Juat make sure that before you hit the finish with the detailer spray, you dust off the car with our Nebraska Duster. This will get all of the surface dirt off the car, instead of grinding it into the finish.

And here are just a couple more tips from us to you:

While the car is all suds'd up and soapy, take the nozzle off of your hose and starting at the top, run a steady stream of water across all the panels. This creates a rinsing and sheeting action that carries away the majority of soap and excess water.

NEVER use liquid dish soap to wash your car. Yes, you get alot of suds, and it cleans really well, but what you are actually doing is stripping all of the wax from your car...which is fine if you intend to buff the paint and start building a quality finish all over again.

And lastly, if you use terry towels to dry, pass on the fabric softener when you wash them. Fabric softeners are hydrophobic, meaning they repel water. Which in turn is probably not the best course of action for a towel you want to absorb water.

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